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McConnell blocks House bills to reopen government

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWashington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday blocked two House-passed funding bills that would reopen the federal government.

Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenTensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy Financial market transactions should not be taxed or restricted Van Hollen says members should stand with Cheney on election claims MORE (D-Md.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSanders: Netanyahu has cultivated 'racist nationalism' Tensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy House panel advances bipartisan retirement savings bill MORE (D-Md.), surrounded by roughly two dozen of their Senate Democratic colleagues, tried to get consent to bring up a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 8, as well as a separate package that would fund the remaining agencies without current-year appropriations through Sept. 30.

But McConnell objected, arguing they would be “show votes” and saying that he and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) made an "explicit commitment" to avoid such votes.

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“The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless — absolutely pointless — show votes back and forth across the aisle,” McConnell said. 

Under Senate rules, any senator can try to force a vote or pass a bill, but any one senator can block them.

The attempt by Democrats to pass the House bills comes as the partial government shutdown, which is impacting roughly a quarter of the federal government and is in its 20th day, is poised to break a record this weekend as the longest shutdown ever.

Talks between congressional leadership and President TrumpDonald TrumpSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Navajo Nation president on Arizona's new voting restrictions: An 'assault' on our rights The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez MORE appear to have derailed, with Trump walking out of a White House meeting on Wednesday. 

McConnell has pledged that he will not bring up a bill that Trump doesn’t support.